Burnley boss Sean Dyche not listening to outside noise in battle for Premier League survival
The perception outside Turf Moor is that Fulham are ramping up the pressure on Burnley in their bid for a great escape.
The Cottagers closed the gap to six points to the Clarets after a 1-1 draw at Arsenal on Sunday - where the Gunners were indebted to an equaliser in the seventh minute of stoppage time.
And Burnley were unable to extend their advantage as they went down 3-1 at Manchester United.
However, while Burnley sit a place and two wins above Scott Parker’s side, with a game in hand, form suggests it is Sean Dyche’s men who are keeping their heads above water, rather than being hunted down.
Over the calendar year, Burnley have a point more, with 17, from the same number of games, 17, and the last six results put Fulham bottom of the Premier League form table with a point, with the Clarets, despite three successive defeats, claiming four points in that time.
Indeed, since early March, when Fulham won 1-0 at Liverpool, the gap between the sides has grown from four to six, despite the Cottagers playing a game more.
And while Burnley could mathematically be pegged back by Fulham, the Clarets are, conversely, only a point behind Brighton, two behind Newcastle, and a win adrift of Southampton.
Dyche, as ever, is only interested in what his side do in their remaining six games, which include one at Craven Cottage in just over a fortnight: “People keep asking me about everyone else - we’re just concentrating on what we can do.
“But it’s interesting that people only ever ask about us. Someone actually asked me about this the other week, not actually realising Brighton were still below us at the time. But it’s not the first time we’ve been here.
“There’s a reality to the season’s work. We speak to the players in real, honest, and balanced terms, and they are fully aware of what is at stake.
”They know about the challenges we face every season, and the big challenge we’ve faced virtually all of this season with injuries.
”To get to game seven with only two points was disappointing for everyone, especially myself and the players. But my total belief back then was that we would correct it, and we have corretedit.
”You know, it was only a short while ago that Fulham were four points behind us, on level games, and now we’re six points in front with a game in hand.
”Yet somehow the outside perception is we’re in a worse mess now. That we’ve gone backwards. No we haven’t. We’ve gone forwards. I’m not bothered by that. I’m just stating the facts.
“It should only be about what we do, but it’s not as simple as that. The players get it lobbed in their faces constantly about what the teams around us are doing, as do I, from social media and from being asked questions.
”But the fact remains when the whistle blows you’ve got to focus on putting in a good performance, and turning that performance into a win. And if not a draw. And if you don’t get either, refoc us on the next one, and try to put it right.
“The outside noise is all around you, but you have to try to shut it out and make it all about you. Because when we get things right, we can at least be competitive in every game of a Premier League session. The challenge is getting it right.“
Fulham are without a game this weekend, while Burnley are at a Wolves side missing a number of key players through injury, with Nuno Espírito Santo’s men not really playing for anything other than pride and their final position.
Dyche reads nothing into that: “You can’t rely on that. Every team will have their own reasons for whatever they’re doing, and how they’re performing. Managers will have their own ideas about wanting to rest players, or to change certain things. I’m certainly not having that here, because I tell my players that every team we face are ready to play to their maximum, so we’d better be ready to play too - as we always are.
“We certainly haven’t waited for any favours in our time in the Premier League. We’ve had to earn everything we’ve got, and we’ll continue to do that.”